Mohammad Khatami: Fomenting violence abroad ‘treason’



TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A former Iranian president has said that exporting violence to other countries is “treason” against Islam and Iran’s 1979 revolution, an apparent accusation that the country’s hard-line rulers are engineering unrest abroad.

Mohammad Khatami, a reformist and popular intellectual, made no mention of U.S. and Iraqi accusations that Iran is arming and training Shiite extremists in neighboring Iraq. But he said Iran should avoid actions that give it a bad image.

Engineering violence in other countries would be contrary to the goals of the 1979 Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khatami said.

“What did Imam (Khomeini) want and what did he mean by ‘exporting the revolution’? Taking up arms and causing explosions in other countries and establishing groups to carry out sabotage in other countries? Imam was strongly opposed to these behaviors,” Khatami told students in northern Iran on Friday.

“This is the biggest treason to Islam and the revolution.”

Khatami’s remarks were published by the daily Kargozaran Saturday and also posted on the Web site of a pro-democracy foundation he heads.

Iraqi and U.S. officials accuse Iran of arming and training Shiite militias in Iraq but Tehran denies it. Senior Shiite Iraqi politicians are in Iran to confront authorities with evidence of Iran’s involvement.

On Thursday, the Iraqi delegates met with Gen. Ghassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps that has been accused of training and funneling weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq.

The Guards chief is appointed by Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Guards’ commanders have openly supported the country’s hard-line leaders.

Iraqi officials said the delegation had documents and other material implicating the Quds Force in supplying weapons and training fighters.

U.S. military officials have said the evidence includes caches of weapons that have date stamps showing they were produced in Iran this year — including mortars, rockets and armor-piercing roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs.

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are in the midst of a crackdown on the Mahdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is believed to be living in Iran.

Khatami was Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005. His program of democratic reforms failed after unelected hard-liners, backed by Khamenei, blocked all reform legislation and stopped Khatami from making changes he had promised those who elected him.

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